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Biomechanical modeling of tumor growth in oncology

Final Activity Report Summary - CANCERBIOMECHANICS (Biomechanical modelling of tumor growth in oncology)

The elasticity of biological materials, in health and in pathological conditions, was the theme of post-doctoral activities of the Marie Curie EIF fellow at Laboratoire de Physique Statistique (LPS) of the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris. The researcher has dealt with problems concerning embryogenesis, morphogenesis of living matter, soft tissue biomechanics, tumour modelling, bioengineering and instability in elastic growth. During his fellowship, the researcher has published 4 articles in international peer-reviewed journals and 2 articles in the peer-reviewed proceedings of international conferences. At the current stage, 2 manuscripts are in preparation for the submission to international peer-reviewed journal and 1 book chapter is in preparation for Oxford university Press.

The major achievements of the research activities published during the fellowship are reported below:
- epithelial morphogenesis in the elongation of the C.elegans embryo, driving progress on the challenge to define the feedback mechanisms of mechano-transduction during embryogenesis;
- morphogenesis and elastic instability during biological growth, describing how bifurcations of elastic stability during growth can determine the shape of biological objects (e.g. leaves, tumours);
- structural remodelling and dissipative behaviour of soft tissues, determining the relation between the tissue macroscopic properties with the structural characteristics of their extra-cellular matrix;
- biomechanical models for applications in robotic endoscopy, defining suitable viscoelastic models of abdominal organs for a range of biomedical applications used for screening colon cancer.

The major achievements in the manuscripts that have not yet been published are reported below:
- polyconvex strain energy functions for soft fibrous materials, proposing a constitutive class for fibrous biological materials at different scales with many advantages in the study of wrinkling;
- biomechanical model of skin cancer evolution, developing a multiphase model and numerical tools for studying melanoma early evolution, suggesting from a linear stability analysis that the diffusion mechanisms during neoplastic growth may drive contour instabilities of the tumour lesion.

The EIF fellow has given one oral presentation at the IUTAM Symposium on Cellular, Molecular and Tissue Mechanics held at the US National Academy of Sciences in Woods Hole, USA. The fellow was invited to give a series of lectures (3h) at the Les Houches Summer School 2009 on Physics and Mechanics of Biological Systems on biorheology, an oral presentation to a workshop on Active Behaviour of the cytoskeleton at Institut Poincaré in Paris. During his EIF fellowship, the researcher was invited to give 7 seminars in universities and research centres in Europe, obtaining the academic qualification in France for three different fields (28- dense matter; 30- dilute matter; 60- mechanics). During his EIF fellowship, the researcher has supervised the stage activities of two master students of University Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris. The fellow has established collaborations with EU clinical partners, biologists, and bioengineers in order to create a multidisciplinary research group in cancer biomechanics, with the submission of the proposal of a CP under the program FP7-ICT-2007-5.3 Virtual Physiological Human.